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Gold Derby nuggets: 'The Road' rises up; expanded best pic race: pros & cons; Vulture feasts on 'Avatar' trailer

October 31, 2009 |  8:33 am

The Road Poster  • Hitting the web this week is the new trailer for "The Road." Though the post-apocalyptic parable saw its Oscar hopes take a detour following a pan by Variety, a shot at a top 10 slot now seems firmly back on track. Ryan Adams deftly sums up his reaction to the new spot: "Remarkably faithful to the novel, down to the most desolate detail. What impresses me most about the production design is the endless ashen sensation of terrible majesty. It’s as if the whole world has become the ruins of the Acropolis, the brittle fossils of a lost culture. The look in Viggo’s eyes secures his nomination, I feel confident. It’s going to take a lot of wry grins, curmudgeonly scowls, and other baked ham recipes for any other actor to match the depths this role fathoms." AWARDS DAILY

 • In the first of a two-part look at the expanded best picture race, Glenn Whipp sees the glass as half full. However, he cautions that "while one, maybe two, commercial movies might make their way to a nomination, boosters of Oscar's expanded field believe that the main beneficiaries of the new math will be foreign-language films, documentaries and small-scale dramas. That prospect is welcome news in a year that has been rife with bad tidings for indie labels." He notes: "The expansion's supporters maintain that the increased opportunities will shine a spotlight on deserving films that often are shunted off to their own 'smaller' categories. 'For animated movies, foreign-language films and documentaries, this is a chance to sit at the grown-ups' table,' says one Academy member. 'You're going to see a lot of fine films get more recognition. I can't see how that's a bad thing.'" VARIETY

 • If the glass is only half full, it means that it is also half empty too. Glenn Whipp observes: "As audiences and Academy members have seen most of the Oscar contenders, a vague sense of discomfort hangs over Hollywood as some naysayers wonder how they might possibly fill out a ballot that now includes 10 slots. 'This is not 1939,' says one Academy member, who like most people interviewed for this story, asked not to be identified. 'I'm just not seeing stuff that's blowing me away, and it's October. When the year began, I was hoping for masterpieces. Now I'd just take a good mid-range drama, and I'm not even getting that.'" VARIETY

Jeff Wells says such talk by academy members about trouble finding films to fill the best pic race is a lot of hot air. As he writes: "They want the kind of high-pedigree, finely-fused emotional bath movie that the major studios used to try to make but began abandoning in the '90s, and have now pretty much given up on. They're investing in Guy Ritchie movies for December release these days, and Guy Ritchie ain't Sidney Lumet or Mike Nichols or David Lean. Well, the save-us-from-disappointment crowd had better get with it. They'd better wake up and smell the cappucino. The reality is that the Oscars have pretty much become the Spirit Awards in tuxedoes and designer gowns. That's the world we've all created and are living in. I for one am down with that, but some people are beyond reach." HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE

Avatar Poster  • Lane Brown, one of the Vulture crew, updates the blog's Oscars futures and rules out "Avatar" -- which is on most everyone else's best pic picks -- because "Its new story-focused trailer is a little better than the silly looking previous one at least but this thing still doesn't look like awards material, does it? (No.)" Lane likes the chances of the unscreened "Invictus" -- also a top 10 choice for most -- and comments, "Is it any good? Nobody knows! But its new trailer confirms it's exactly the sort of movie everyone assumes gets nominated for Best Picture." However, while Lane thinks the Oscar hopes of "Invictus" star Matt Damon are up -- "his South African accent better than we expected" -- his co-star Morgan Freeman is down but not out -- "We're sure he'll be nominated, but, from the trailer, doesn't it sort of look like he's just playing Morgan Freeman?" NEW YORK

Mary J. Blige confesses that she vomited -- metaphorically speaking -- on a recording of "I Can See in Color" -- the inevitable Oscar best-song nominee from "Precious." She said the film's director Lee Daniels "made me pull every single thing from my guts. He said, 'I know you have it in you.' I finally got to the point where the very next day I just went in and threw up on the record." Blige, who had her own troubled childhood, could particularly relate to the movie's depiction of physical and verbal abuse. After she watched the movie, Blige said she "just sat there for two minutes, stuck, with nothing to say." HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Photo credits: The Weinstein Co.; 20th Century Fox

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